[The following text is excerpted with permission from a longer transcript of a May 13, 1997 interview conducted by journalist A.J.S. Rayl with Colonel Charles I. Halt, USAF (ret.), for Project Watchfire on the Microsoft Network. Colonel Halt was the most senior officer directly involved in the famous and still unexplained UFO events of December, 1980 at RAF Bentwaters/Woodbridge NATO bases in England. A new book on these events, "Left at East Gate" by Larry Warren and Peter Robbins, has just been published by Marlowe and Company. Larry Warren, a young airman at the time of the UFO events, has become well known on the UFO speaking circuit as a witness to an alleged "third night" of UFO activity at Bentwaters. "Left at East Gate" is more than just the story of Larry Warren's involvement in these indisputably strange encounters, but his involvement has been questioned by a number of other known witnesses, notably Colonel Halt. In this interview, Halt talks about his own UFO experience, and also his impressions of Larry Warren.
Project Watchfire is an innovative interactive online radio program coupled with written "Briefing Reports" posted on the web each week. The Project Watchfire site, http://watchfire.msn.com, can only be fully viewed using Internet Explorer 3.0x for Windows 95. If you use this browser, be sure to visit the site. A new Briefing Report, written by A.J.S. Rayl, is posted every Wednesday. A live guest interview keyed to the week's Briefing takes place 6-7 pm (PDT) every Tuesday, hosted by Ms. Rayl.
CNI News thanks Celeste for transcribing this text.]
A.J.S. Rayl: To briefly summarize, on the night of December 27, 1980, Colonel Charles I. Halt was dining with other officers and their families at a belated officers' Christmas dinner when the on-duty security police lieutenant came in and announced that the UFO was back. Two nights before, Staff Sergeant Jim Penniston and Airman John Burroughs encountered a very unusual craft when they went out into the woods bordering the bases to investigate what Penniston thought was an airplane crash. Instead, they found a triangular-shaped craft that had strange markings on it, a craft that eventually ascended, maneuvered through the forest, and disappeared with no sound.
When the on-duty officer made his announcement at the Christmas dinner, it was decided that Halt would gather a team of men and investigate. Halt, who at the time was Deputy Base Commander, fully expected to dispel the rumors of UFOs. Instead, he and his men witnessed things so mysterious, they were beyond comprehension.
A.J.S. Rayl: Colonel Halt, when you arrived at the edge of the woods, what was the first indication that something strange was going on?
Colonel Halt: They were having problems with the Light-Alls, small fluorescent-type lights with a small four-cycle engine. They wouldn't work properly. And the radios were acting up. And people were scurrying about, trying to get them working, and having great difficulties.
A.J.S. Rayl: And what was the general situation out there?
Halt: There were probably 25 or 30 security policemen there, kind of scurrying about all excited, and pointing into the forest. And the lieutenant who had picked me up at the officers' mess handed me a Starlite scope and said, "Look into the forest," and pointed to one area. I looked in and saw a glowing area. Nothing one could discern, exactly, but just a glowing area.
Rayl: Had you ever seen anything like that before?
Halt: No, I hadn't. I don't really know what it was to this day. We decided to go into the forest and investigate. At the approximate area where we'd seen the glow, [we] found three indentations in the floor of the forest. I had an individual from Disaster Preparedness with me, with what you call a Geiger counter, and he started taking readings. The Geiger counter indicated it was a little warmer there. Nothing of any danger, really, but certainly above background radiation. Suddenly the lieutenant pointed off toward the farmer's field, and said, "Look over there."
Rayl: Describe what you saw at that point.
Colonel Halt: We saw a glowing red object, as best I can describe it, almost like a red eye with a black pupil, and it was sort of winking and dripping what appeared to be the equivalent of molten metal. We just stood there in awe, and watched for several minutes, probably, and decided to try to approach it. At that time, it started moving through the forest. We could see it moving between the trees. It was moving in a horizontal plane, and moved probably 25, 30, maybe 45 degrees, in-between the trees, and back around. It was obviously moving. It sort of approached us a bit at one time, and then it receded out into the farmer's field. And as we approached the fence-line to the field, it literally exploded, almost violently, and it broke into multi[ple] white objects. Just prior to that we had also noticed that the farmer's house appeared to be glowing, as though there were a fire inside. I was quite concerned for the occupants of the house. We stood there and watched for quite a while, [then] went out into the field and tried to find any evidence, such as any burned spots or anything of that nature. We couldn't find anything. We crossed the farmer's field. I thought about knocking on the door. But then I thought, "Well here I am, in a uniform, in a foreign country, with a group of people, this probably won't go over too well." So we went on past the farmer's house out into a plowed field. About that time, one of the people who was with me noticed some objects in the sky, I believe three, to the north, about 35 to 40 degrees off the horizon, that looked like they were elliptical, kind of like a Cherokee moon. But they had lights on them. And as we watched them, they turned into a full circle, then they started moving about in a strange pattern. One of the members of the party suggested they were doing a grid search. I'm not really sure. Somebody else noted another object, very similar, to the south. This object hovered back and forth, and at one point approached us at very high speed. It stopped overhead -- probably 2, 3, maybe 4,000 feet, and sent out a beam, sort of like a laser beam, that fell very close to our feet and illuminated the ground for maybe 3, 4, 5 seconds.
Rayl: What is going through your mind at this point?
Halt: The first thing I thought was, "I wish I hadn't gotten involved in this. Nobody's ever going to believe it." But I didn't know whether the objects were hostile, friendly, trying to signal, trying to warn us, or trying to communicate. I really didn't know. I was quite concerned, but I guess I really wasn't that worried.
Rayl: Did you think they were craft that belonged to a foreign country?
Halt: No, there was nothing that we have in our inventory, or that anybody that I knew had in their inventory, that could travel at the speeds these were moving, and make the sharp, angular turns. They had to be pulling 30, 40, 50 Gs. There is no way that anything we have -- even today -- that could do that.
Rayl: Okay. So this object moved directly toward you. It shoots down this pencil-like beam toward your feet. What happens then?
Halt: We stood there in awe and watched, and suddenly it was as though it was switched off. It just clicked -- it was gone. The object was still in the sky. We also noted that it receded. It moved about. It sent down beams other places, including some various places on the base. And we could hear chatter on the radios. We were on three different radio nets: two security-police nets and the command net. And we could hear chatter. Other people on the base were seeing these things, especially security police. I had called the command post when we first saw the objects in the sky, and asked them to call Eastern Radar. I heard later from second-hand sources that they did see some objects on the radar.
Rayl: What happened next?
Colonel Halt: We were out there for several hours watching them, and it was just amazing. Finally it was -- I don't know -- 2, 3, 4 o'clock in the morning. We were wet, and cold, and people were getting miserable, and I was getting quite concerned about the five people who were out there with me. And we decided to head back in. Then we went back to the base, and went home. In disbelief, I guess.
Rayl: What happened in the days following this event? I understand you took reports from Penniston and Burroughs...
Halt: And one other individual that was involved the first night -- the three individuals that were involved. I also took them from the flight commander, and one individual that went out with me, a Master Sergeant. And they all basically said the same thing, although they didn't go into a lot of detail. I think they kind of -- how shall I say it? -- filtered it a bit for me. They were quite concerned. Penniston, for instance, didn't tell me he actually got close enough to the object to touch. I don't think Burroughs told me that initially, either. I think they were quite worried. I know they were very concerned about losing their security clearance or their job, in fact.
Rayl: Now, why would they be worried about that?
Halt: Because they weren't sure anybody would believe them.
Rayl: So, UFOs are not exactly a subject for open conversation in the Air Force?
Halt: No, not really. I don't think the Air Force actually has an active program at all to investigate, after Project Blue Book was closed.
Rayl: What happened to the evidence? You, as I understand, took photographs that night.
Halt: The individual from Disaster Preparedness that had the Geiger-counter was also a professional photographer. He took one if not two rolls of film of the indentations, of marks on the trees, of the objects in the sky, and he developed them. I gave him a call a day or two later, and said, "How did the film come out?" And he said, "It's all fogged." I said, "Fogged? Are you sure you didn't make a mistake?" "No," he said, "I've been doing this for many years. Obviously, something happened to the film." So, as far as I know, that night, there were no good photographs. There was no video. There was no film taken, to my knowledge.
Rayl: Two weeks later, on January 13, 1981, you issued a memorandum to the British Ministry of Defense. Why did you do that?
Halt: At the request of the RAF liaison officer, or the RAF base commander, as we called him, Don Moreland. I approached him and I said, you know, this happened off base. I discussed this through our channels. And the real answer from our channels was, "Hey, we don't want to touch this with a pole. This is a British incident. It happened off the installation, let them handle it." So I contacted him. The only reason the memo was dated that late was because he was on vacation, and I wasn't able to find out what he wanted. When I finally caught up with him on about the 10th or the 12th, he said, "Well, write a brief memo, kind of sanitize it, and we'll send it to London, and we'll see what happens." So, that's what I did.
Rayl: That memo is probably one of the most amazing documents that's been released to the UFO community within the last 20 years or so. And while you never use the term "UFO," it reads like science fiction. When you were writing that, did you get a sense that what you're writing may be not taken seriously?
Halt: Well, there was no intent for that to be released publicly. You know, it was not a classified document. It was given to Don Moreland to forward through his channels, which was the Liaison Officer, Third Air Force Headquarters in England, to the MOD, and to see what their interest was. And I really expected somebody to pop up in a day or two and want more details. To this day, it hasn't happened.
Rayl: That's interesting, don't you think?
Halt: Oh, it's very interesting.
Rayl: Have you made any attempts to discuss this with members of Congress, in order to force the government to open up records and findings of past investigations into these types of matters?
Halt: I have responded to very senior congressmen, actually two senators, and provided them information at their request.
Rayl: Any follow-up on that at this point?
Halt: None that I know of.
Rayl: How did this affect your career in the Air Force?
Halt: It could have very seriously derailed it. Fortunately, I had enough credibility to my superiors that I was able to carry through. It did not help me in any way, shape or form, I can tell you.
Rayl: I think we should point out that subsequent to that you were promoted to be the Base Commander. You were also promoted to Colonel. I believe you got several awards after that, correct?
Halt: That's correct.
Rayl: Let's cut to the chase here. In recent weeks, there has been a new book released by Larry Warren and Peter Robbins. First of all, Warren claims that there was a third night of activity. Can we clear that issue up?
Halt: I read his book. I found it to be very interesting. I really feel sorry for him. But let me get back to the question. I'd say there was a third night -- there was a first and a third night. There was an intervening night in between, where I don't think anything happened. Larry Warren was not on station, according to his records, until what I call "the third night," or the night I went out. As far as I know, Larry Warren was not on flight, officially assigned on duty. He was officially assigned, but he had not finished training. I don't believe he was there, although it is possible that he may have been back at a distance. But as best I can determine, he was not there, and his former supervisor said he wasn't there.
Rayl: He certainly wasn't one of the five or six men that you chose to go with you.
Halt: He certainly was not. They were all senior people, and I knew them on a first-name basis.
Rayl: Warren also claims that there were, on this third night, holographic aliens that appeared, and in some way communicated with the wing commander. What is your comment on that?
Halt: The wing commander at that time was not present. He was at another social event.
Rayl: What is your opinion, overall, of Larry Warren's version of what happened, as written in "Left at East Gate"?
Halt: I felt kind of sad when I read the book. It's sort of Larry Warren's -- how shall I say it? -- his life. A lot of misfortune. I think Larry Warren has either relived a fantasy so many times that he sincerely believes it, or he's been meddled with. By that I mean hypnosis, drugs, or whatever. I think he may have been a lightning-rod, drawn a lot of attention, and something may have happened to him. I don't know for a fact. And he has admitted this to me. He and I have talked a couple of times.... I've listened to many of Larry Warren's tapes. He's on the talk circuit. I have half a dozen of them, and the story changes. It keeps getting embellished. And the book is even different. So, what can I say?
Rayl: Okay. Another question. What about the skeptics' explanations? There are some people who say that you mistook the lighthouse lights for a UFO. There was also a Russian satellite that entered on the night of the 25th which, of course, was not the night you were out there. It was, rather, the night that Penniston, Burroughs and Kabanzag were out there. There have also been suggestions that perhaps this was experimental aircraft of our own. And perhaps it was psychological warfare. What are your responses to those?
Halt: First, the lighthouse was visible the whole time. It was readily apparent, and it was 30 to 40 degrees off to our right. If you were standing in the forest where we stood, at the supposed landing site or whatever you want to call it, you could see the farmer's house directly in front of us. The lighthouse was 30 to 35 degrees off to the right, and the object was close to the farmer's house and moving from there to the left, through the trees. So it actually moved through the trees. It couldn't have been a falling object. I've thought about everything... and I've sat down with some of the foremost astrophysicists, etc., and discussed this, and asked them for explanations. Some of them said, well, I can debunk this, and we've gone around and around, and they've all walked away, shaking their head.
Rayl: What about the Russian satellite?
Halt: I can't say a piece of the satellite didn't fall somewhere. That's certainly a possibility. But, how do you explain something that blinks and moves horizontally through the trees, that recedes, that explodes, that stays in the sky, that sends down a beam of light? There are just too many things that don't fit together. When you compound and put them all together, it's pretty tough.
Rayl: Any thoughts that it could have been experimental aircraft?
Halt: Keep in mind, this was 1980 -- 16 years ago. I didn't see the craft, so I really can't comment on that. I saw lights. I saw an object that... appeared to be a light.
Rayl: But a light that also shot out a pencil-like beam, which would seem to imply that there was a craft --
Halt: There had to be some type of an object, yes.
Rayl: Psychological warfare?
Halt: I've discussed this with Jacques Vallee. In fact, he and I had lunch and talked for a long time, and he said, "Well, you were the victim of a mind-control experiment." And I said, "Well, how do you explain this? The numbers of people involved -- we're talking 30 to 50 or more people, on three different radio nets, at different geographic locations. That's too hard to do, I think. When the people clear over on the base are seeing these same objects, seeing the same beams of light come down, and they're a mile or two miles away, it's pretty tough to pull off, isn't it?" And he just shook his head on that.
Rayl: And what was his conclusion after that?
Halt: He didn't give me a conclusion. He kind of apologized. In fact, I have it in writing. Because when he put his book out ["Revelations," 1991] that said the "Bentwaters incident" was nothing but a mind-control experiment, I wrote him a caustic letter. And he responded. He came to Washington, and we sat down and had lunch, and talked for a long time. I think he's changed his mind now.
[In "Revelations," Vallee in fact left open the possibility that the Bentwaters/Woodbridge events could have involved authentic UFO phenomena. Interestingly, one of his main reasons for preferring the "deception" theory was testimony given to him by Larry Warren. -- ed.]
Rayl: We are 16 and a half years later now. Any ideas on what it was that you saw that night?
Halt: None whatsoever. Something under intelligent control. That's all I know.
Rayl: What would you like to see happen now?
Halt: I'm sure there are some files someplace with some more information that will correlate this with other sightings, other incidents. There's no doubt in my mind a lot of agencies are collecting information, and they are competing for information, and probably know a lot more than you do or I do.
Rayl: There is a group now that is trying to get congressional hearings held, and they would like to get immunity granted for people such as yourself, military officers, astronauts. What are your thoughts on Congress being able to do anything? Can congressional hearings open this issue up?
Halt: I seriously doubt it. You have to understand what black programs and compartmentalized programs are. I really don't think so. They can get people to come forward probably, and gather a lot of data, which may be quite interesting. But will they ever pry everything out of some file cabinet somewhere? Probably not.
Rayl: What are your own personal thoughts on the possibility of other intelligent life being out there somewhere?
Halt: I think there's something somewhere -- be it another dimension, another place -- I don't know.
Rayl: Do you think that what you saw that night, or parts of what you saw that night, might have been from someplace else, meaning not of Earth?
Halt: I certainly think so.
Rayl: So you think it's possible that what you was extraterrestrial?
Halt: I would suspect as much.
Rayl: What would close the book on this for you?
Halt: I'd have to have a lot of questions answered. What was it? What was their intent? And, you know, who are "they," if it's a "they"? I really would like the answer.
Rayl: Do you have any hopes that you'll get that in this lifetime?
Halt: I seriously doubt it.
Original file name: CNI - Halt interview
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